LIMA — Allen County’s air quality is up to standard, according to Alyse Johnson, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Northwest District environmental specialist.
Johnson presented the 2017 Allen County Air Quality Report at the Board of Health meeting Tuesday at Allen County Public Health.
The air quality in Allen County is determined by the U.S. EPA, which looks at ambient air quality standards from seven criteria pollutants: nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter less than or equal to a 2.5-micron diameter, particulate matter less than or equal to a 10-micron diameter, carbon monoxide, lead and ozone.
A micron is a millionth of a meter, meaning it would take 25,400 microns to equal one inch.
The pollutants are measured by primary standards which are in place to protect public health, and secondary standards are to help determine welfare for things like vegetation and animals, according to Johnson.
The monitoring site, which is located at Bath High School, monitors sulfur dioxide, ozone and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter in Allen County.
“We are not trying to look at necessarily the worse case [or] the best case. We want what is reflective of the entire county,” said Johnson.
The primary standard for particulate matter this size is 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Measurements are averaged over three years.
In Allen County, the 3-year average as of 2017 was 8.3, which is 3.7 micrograms less than the primary standard. From Jan. 1 to Aug. 15 of this year, the average was 8.6, with a 3-year average of 7.9, also below the standard.
“Unemployment has gone down and people are traveling more than last year,” said Johnson. “Hopefully we will see a decrease.”
The primary 1-hour standard is .0075 parts per million for sulfur dioxide, and the 3-hour secondary standard is 0.5 parts per million. In 2017, the 1-hour measurement was 0.002 and the 3-hour measurement was 0.005 ppm. From Jan. 1 to Aug. 15, 2018, it was .006 ppm with a 3-year average of .004 ppm.
The primary and secondary standard for ozone is 0.070 ppm, which is an 8-hour concentration average over three years. In 2017 the 8-hour concentration average was 0.067 ppm. From March 1 to Oct. 31, 2018 the 8-hour concentration is 0.074 with a 3-year average of .070 ppm.
Johnson believes that the numbers are higher because last year’s summer was cooler than this year’s.
“I’m not saying there is an alarm or any concern,” said Johnson. “You see a downward trend, but it is something to be aware of. I am pleased that the 2017 data has shown that our numbers are looking good and that we are protecting the environment to increase air quality.”
”We felt that the results that we got in last year’s report was so good that we communicated to the media that citizens of Allen County should be quite pleased with what these numbers show, and this year the numbers are even better,” said Michael Wildermuth, an Allen County resident in attendance. “As a citizen of Allen County, it is comforting to know the numbers look as good as they do.”
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews.